Life

“Back Home” Red Beans & Rice

I don’t have a lot of recipes I’d call my own, much less ones that aren’t fancied up bachelor-food designed to keep my kids alive when my wife is away. But red beans and rice is one recipe that I’ve perfected, that conjures the best kind of childhood memories, and is humble but respectable enough to share. Sadly this was not a family recipe passed down, but it matches my memories of the dish we seemed to eat weekly growing up in Louisiana.

My version was originally a mash-up of Emeril’s and Crescent City. However looking at these now I am shocked that neither acknolwedge celery’s role in The Holy Trinity, nor add bay leaves! Sacrebleu, Boudreaux! Without further adieu, the recipe!

Ingredients to feed a big family:

  • 2-3 cups jasmine rice (or whatever you like)
  • 3x 16oz canned dark red kidney beans
  • Chopped:
    • 4 stalks of celery (slice each length-wise twice, then perpendicular to the stalk for smaller bits)
    • 1 green bell pepper
    • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic or 2 tsp pre-minced
  • 4+ bay leaf
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 pounds smoked sausage, dice one pound, slice the second and reserve for closer to mealtime. *The best kind of sausage for this would be a very smoky, mild-to-medium spiciness sausage. I usually get basic Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage for the kids’ sake. A smoky andouille would add a lot of flavor and be more authentic!
  • Salt, pepper, Tony’s, Tabasco to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

Step 0, IGNITION!

Get together your crock pot, two pans for sauteing, and your favorite chopper. Start the crock pot for 4 hours on HIGH and get your pans heating on medium heat.

Step 1, CHOP CHOP!

Chop up the celery, bell pepper, and onion (and mince that garlic you overachiever! I just use the pre-minced stuff). Toss two pads of butter into a heating pan with the veggies. Dice a pound of sausage and toss into the second pan to brown. All of these ingredients will end up in the crock pot so get a good browning on everything for flavor, but don’t burn it!

Step 1-1, JUST BEAN IT!

Once you have a chance to break away from choppin’ and sautein’, crack open two of your cans of beans and dump them into the crock pot. Add a pinch or two of salt and pepper.

Step 2, LEAF IT ALONE!

Bring together your browned sausage bits and sauteed veggies with the beans in the crock pot. Scrape in any rendered fat and stuck on bits as long that aren’t charred and crusty. Stir it all together then add more salt/pepper/Tony’s/Tabasco to taste. Note: the earlier you add Tabasco, the spicier things get later. Add water just enough to cover the beans and veggies. Arrange your bay leaves in a cool pattern on top or just stir them in, fo sho Thibodeaux won’t care naw. Walk away and try not to get too hungry.

Step 3, BUTTER’N’BEANS!

After about 3-ish hours (the longer the better), stir and season to taste. This is probably a good time to add more Tony’s or Tabasco to give the finished product some heat. Find the third can of beans and a blender and blend THE BEANS – NOT THE CAN – until smooth. Add the bean puree and the remaining butter to the crock and stir. Turn the heat down to warm for the next hour-ish.

Step 4, RICE RICE BABY (AND MORE SAUSAGE)!

20 minutes before you want to serve, brown the other pound of sausage slices and cook your rice according to the package. I’ve found that regular white rice gets too gummy too easily, probably due to my ineptitude, but jasmine rice works well. We’re going to put the sausage on top – so brown it up purdy, ya cher!

Step 5, HOW TO SERVE MAN (OR WOMAN)!

Give your crock pot a stir and pick out the bay leaves. You could get all bougie and use them as garnish or just throw them away. I serve this with rice on the bottom, then put 2-3 large slotted spoonfuls on top. Then a ladle or two of “bean au jus” and top with the browned sausage medallions. Personally I love a few dashes of Tabasco and a final dusting of Tony’s.

Bon appetit!